Why give your year a theme?

Theming your Year

Part 1 – Why a theme?

Jeff Mitchell

I’m trying something new this year and I’d like to challenge my readers to do the same. This year I am having a central theme for the next 12 months of my self development. I will focus on integrating this theme into my life, going beyond just goal setting and making it a core component of how I live my life. In this article I will introduce the idea of theming a year and why you should set your own annual theme. In future articles in this series I will explain how to plan and implement your theme along with how to incorporate the theme into your overall self development.

What do you mean by ‘theming’ a year?

This year (and every year after) I am going to take one area of my self development and set that as my theme for the year. I will be focusing my development (first and foremost) on achieving excellence in this theme. I will research the topic, plan routines to incorporate the topic into my life, and make all of my important decisions with this underlying theme as a sort of guiding philosophy. It will help me to determine where to spend my time, where to direct my focus, what challenges I set for myself and how I go about improving my life this year.

The objective will be to achieve mastery of this theme by the end of the year, and to carry this mastery forward with me as I continue living my life. The topic will be the theme for my self development for the year and also for how I will live my life. Rather than just being a handful of goals and a few action points, I intend the theme to be part of my daily existence, each and every day.

Your theme for the year will be something you are looking to learn about and incorporate into your life. You are trying to develop positive habits and routines that will move you forward and make your life more rewarding. You are giving yourself a year to learn, experiment, apply and integrate the theme into your life.

Why theme the year?

I really like the idea of learning a new skill or topic each year. I know of people into their sixties that still do one university paper a year to keep learning. Other people set themselves a yearly challenge to achieve. I have taken these ideas on board and decided to improve one area of my life per year, every year. This year it is to live a healthier life. Theming the year will help me to bring this topic to life and make it a focus for me. In this series I will provide examples of how I am approaching this challenge as I talk you through how you can set your own theme for the year.

Theming your year focuses you on improving your life one area at a time. If you do this every year, then after five years you will have mastered five areas of your life. How much richer would your life be now if you had mastered an area of your life every year for the last five years? Ten years? Fifteen years?

A theme for the year will provide you with a purpose and a sense of direction. This is because you have a clear area of your life that you will focus on. Many people go through life majoring in minor things and as a result they do not grow or achieve the things that really matter. By setting a theme you are saying that this is something important to you and that you are going to focus on achieving it over the smaller, ‘minor’ things in life that try and take away your focus and attention.

Why not just set some New Year Resolutions?

New Years Resolutions are common at this time of year; you have probably made a few in your time. How many did you follow through on? How many did you repeat the following year? And the year after that? I’ve been guilty of it myself – setting New Years Resolutions and then continuing as I had previously. Seems this is the case for around 92% of people that set them.

One of the problems with New Years Resolutions is that the initial motivation does not last; soon you find yourself back into your old routines. Setting a theme for the year provides an immediate deadline – one year – which gives you a point to work towards. Identifying a major theme – rather than one big goal – can be more motivating as you can then break that theme down into smaller, manageable goals.

For real change to occur you need to develop habits and routines that are part of your life; it can’t just be something that you focus on every now and then. Taking a year to focus on a theme allows you to incorporate it into your life. You won’t know everything about it at the start – research and experimentation are important parts of the process – so giving yourself a year allows you to gradually take what you learn and apply it to your life. Doing this repeatedly throughout the year will help you to develop those routines and habits that you need for lasting change.

So are you ready to take charge of your self development and set a theme for the year? The future articles in this series will discuss how you can set your theme, plan its development, implement it throughout the year, make it part of your life, and then review the year before charging into the next. Our second article discusses how to select a theme for your year. Leave a comment with your theme for the year and I hope you can join me on this journey.

A note for my regular readers: You may have noticed that recent posts have moved away from coach development and more into self development. This partly reflects changes in my life and where I am focusing. The topic of self development should still be relevant to all coaches – self development and coach development often go hand in hand. I’m a strong believer in the idea that to develop and assist others you first need to be able to develop yourself. Anything that you can do to improve yourself will allow you to provide an enhanced service to your athletes. So while there may be fewer direct references to ‘coaching’ and ‘coach development’, I hope that you can still learn a lot from the blog and apply it to your own coaching situation.

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